Round-Britain 2021: How the major cruise lines compare on ships, ports, vaccination rules – and price. What’s the best for you?

Close to home: P&O Cruises ship Iona will anchor off the Scottish island of the same name (Picture: Dave Monk)

With international travel still uncertain, many cruise lines have announced British-based voyages for UK residents this summer.

Below I compare the offerings from P&O Cruises, Princess, Viking, Fred Olsen, MSC, Saga, Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, Royal Caribbean and Marella.

Other lines sailing around the coast this year include Hurtigruten, Tradewind Voyages, Noble Caledonia and Riviera Travel.

The British cruises are obviously popular – Viking’s initial three sailings were snapped up by past guests even before they went on general sale so it has added another two.

Some of the itineraries below have been affected by the Scottish ban on cruise ships, and the extension of limits on cruise ship numbers until July 19.

Here’s how the major lines stack up… (tables best displayed on iPhone held horizontally, or on laptop)

Starting dates

P&O CruisesJune 27 (Britannia)August 7 (Iona*)
Princess CruisesJuly 31 (Regal Princess)August 30 (Sky Princess)
VikingMay 22 (Viking Venus*)
Fred OlsenJuly 5 (Borealis)**August 16 (Bolette)
MSC CruisesMay 20 (Virtuosa*)
Saga CruisesJune 27 (Spirit of Discovery)July 26 (Spirit of Adventure*)
Celebrity CruisesJuly 3 (Celebrity Silhouette)
CunardAugust 13** (Queen Elizabeth)
DisneyJuly 15 (Disney Magic)
Royal CaribbeanJuly 7 (Anthem of the Seas)
Virgin Voyages August 6 (Scarlet Lady)
Marella CruisesJune 25 (Marella Explorer)July 10 (Marella Explorer 2)
*Maiden voyages. The two refurbished Fred Olsen ships are also on their first cruise for the company **Postponed from July 19

Ships and passenger capacity*

P&O CruisesBritannia (3,647)Iona (5,200)
Princess CruisesRegal Princess (3,600)Sky Princess (3,600)
VikingViking Venus (930)
Fred OlsenBorealis (1,360)Bolette (1,338)
MSC CruisesMSC Virtuosa (4,888)
Saga Cruises Spirit of Discovery (999)Spirit of Adventure (999)
Celebrity CruisesCelebrity Silhouette (2,886)
CunardQueen Elizabeth (2,092)
DisneyDisney Magic (2,400)
Royal CaribbeanAnthem of the Seas (4,180)
Virgin VoyagesScarlet Lady (2,800)
Marella CruisesMarella Explorer (1,924)Explorer 2 (Adults only – 1,814)
*Normal two-passengers-per-cabin occupancy given – ships will sail with lower capacity. Cruises before July 19 originally had to sail with a maximum of 1,000 guests, or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is lower. However, government policy changed on June 28 to allow 50% capacity, whatever the passenger numbers, if all guests were vaccinated.

Departure ports and lengths of sailings

P&O CruisesSouthampton (3, 4 and 7 nights)
Princess CruisesSouthampton (3, 4 and 7nts)
VikingPortsmouth (8nts)
Fred OlsenDover and Liverpool (3 – 7nts)
MSC CruisesSouthampton (plus Liverpool*) 4 & 7nts
Saga CruisesLondon Tilbury (6 – 15nts)
Celebrity CruisesSouthampton (6 – 8nts)
CunardSouthampton (3 – 12nts)
DisneySouthampton, Liverpool, Newcastle & Tilbury (2-4nts)
Royal CaribbeanSouthampton (4 – 8nts)
Virgin VoyagesPortsmouth (3 – 4nts)
Marella CruisesSouthampton and Newcastle (3 – 12nts)
*on seven-night sailings

Sailing where?

LineShorter voyages (stops in bold)Longer voyages (stops in bold)
P&O CruisesSouth coast scenicScenic voyages to Channel Islands, French coast. Scotland on Iona maiden. Liverpool on Britannia 6-day cruise.
Princess CruisesPortland on 4-day cruisesPortland, Liverpool, Belfast, Greenock
VikingEight-day cruises onlyLiverpool, Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, Falmouth and Portland
Fred OlsenEngland and ScotlandScenic voyages to the Orkneys, Shetlands and Faroe Islands
MSC CruisesScenic and PortlandAlso Liverpool and Belfast
Saga CruisesScotland, Norwegian fjords14-night round-Britain plus Spirit of Adventure maiden voyage calling at several UK ports
Celebrity CruisesSouth coast and PortlandInverness, Kirkwall, Greenock, Belfast and Liverpool
CunardScenic cruisingLiverpool, Greenock, Invergordon, Belfast, Newcastle, Holyhead
DisneyScenic cruising No sailings longer than 4 days
Royal CaribbeanScenic cruisingLiverpool, Kirkwall and Belfast
Virgin VoyagesScenic cruisingNo sailings longer than 4 days
Marella CruisesSouth coast and PortlandUK and Irish ports
Shore excursions will be limited to ones organised by the cruise line

Vaccination policy

P&O CruisesAll guests must be vaccinated (ie no children*)
Princess CruisesAll guests must be vaccinated (ie no children*)
VikingAll guests must be vaccinated
Fred OlsenAwaiting further government advice
MSC CruisesAll adult guests must be vaccinated
Saga CruisesAll guests must be vaccinated
Celebrity CruisesOver-18s vaccinated; under-18s negative PCR test
CunardAll guests must be vaccinated
DisneyOver-18s vaccinated; under-18s negative PCR test
Royal CaribbeanOver-18s vaccinated; under-18s negative PCR test
Virgin VoyagesAdults-only – must be vaccinated
Marella CruisesOver-18s vaccinated; under-18s negative test; no under-2s allowed at all
*Paul Ludlow of P&O Cruises said: ‘We absolutely love having children on board, we have amazing children’s clubs and this policy is just for these initial coastal cruises as we resume sailing this summer.’
**MSC Cruises originally allowed both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests but changed its policy after a government announcement on June 28

Lowest prices per person

LineThree daysFour daysSeven days
P&O Cruises£449T (£249I)£499T (£299I)£779T (£1,199T*)
Princess Cruises£489DWT£599DWT£899DWT
VikingN/AN/A£1,990MWTS (for 8 days)
Fred Olsen£399£549£1,099
MSC CruisesN/A£499DT£849DT
Saga CruisesN/AN/A£1,154MWT
Celebrity Cruises£499N/A£1,049DWT (for six days)
Royal CaribbeanN/A£569£779
Virgin Voyages£499WT£599WTN/A
Marella Cruises£418N/A£779
*Iona maiden D = including drinks; M = including drinks with meal; W = including wifi; T = including tips; S = including shore excursion in most ports; I = inside cabin; N/A = not applicable (itinerary isn’t offered)

Lowest price per person per day*

P&O Cruises£100 (for six-day voyage)
Princess Cruises£128DWT (for seven-day voyage)
Viking£249MWTS (for eight-day voyage)
Fred Olsen£133 (for three-day voyage)
MSC Cruises£121DT (for seven-day voyage)
Saga Cruises£165MWT (for seven-day voyage)
Celebrity Cruises£166 DWT(for three-day voyage)
Cunard£125 (for 12-day voyage)
Disney£187 (for three-day voyage)
Royal Caribbean£111 (for seven-day voyage)
Virgin Voyages£150WT (for four-day voyage)
Marella Cruises£111 (for seven-day voyage)
*round numbers; D = including drinks; M = including drinks with meals; W = including wifi; T = including tips; S = including shore excursion in most ports

See also:

Round-Britain 2021: How the small lines compare

P&O Cruises announces round-Britain voyages

Princess Cruises announces round-Britain voyages

Fred Olsen announces round-Britain voyages

MSC Cruises announces round-Britain voyages

Virgin Voyages ship will make its debut in Britain

Marella Cruises announces round-Britain voyages

Line by line – when cruising is coming back

Month by month – when ocean ships are returning

For all the best cruise news and reviews, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn

6 thoughts on “Round-Britain 2021: How the major cruise lines compare on ships, ports, vaccination rules – and price. What’s the best for you?

  1. Thanks, Dave. I’m currently booked on an MSC Baltic cruise departing 31/5, so I’m very interested in what they’ll announce!

Leave a Reply